|Vybz Kartel - Jamaican Musical Artist|
Vybz Kartel Childhood & Early Life
Vybz Kartel was born real name Adidja Azim Palmer on January 7, 1976, in
Kingston, Surrey, Jamaica.
He went to Calabar High School, Kingston, but was expelled at the
age of 16. He then attended a tutorial technical school and
completed his education, performing extremely well in mathematics,
geography, literature and English.
He was fascinated by music from a very young age and his two
aspiring musician uncles motivated him further.
He considered popular artists, like Will Smith, Charlie Chaplin,
Papa San, Ninja Man, and KRS-1, as his heroes and started
writing lyrics at the age of 11.
Vybz Kartel is a notorious dancehall reggae artist,
who has recorded some highly successful reggae singles. Presently,
he is serving life imprisonment for the murder of Clive ‘Lizzard’
Williams. Leaving aside his controversial life, he is famous
songwriter and dancehall reggae artist, an interest which
developed during childhood while listening to renowned artists, like
Papa San, Ninja Man, and KRS-1. Eventually, he began writing at a
tender age of 11 and released his first single ‘Love Fat Woman’ at
17. Thereafter, there was no looking back for this budding deejay,
who went on to record more singles before forming his own group
‘Vibes Cartel’, along with two other friends. Though the group
didn’t prove successful, he modified the name and adopted it as a
solo artist – Vybz Kartel. A string of hit solo singles followed -
some of them being ‘Guns Like Mine’, ‘Badman’, ‘Most High’, ‘War
Organizer’, ‘Romping Shop’, and ‘Clarks Again’. Some of his
career’s best music albums are ‘Up 2 Di Time’, ‘More Up 2 Di Time’,
‘J.M.T.’, ‘Pon Di Gaza 2.0’, and ‘Kingston Story’
In 1993, he released his first single ‘Love Fat Woman’ for Alvin
Reid’s label ‘One Heart’ under the name Adi Banton, as a tribute
to one of his role models, Buju Banton.
He continued to record more tracks for local producers until 1996,
when he formed his own group Vibes Cartel, along with his friends
Mr. Lee and singer Escobar.
The group didn’t last long, but he chose to adopt the name in an
altered form, Vybz Kartel and became a solo artist.
While performing a stage show ‘Champions in Action’ in his
hometown, Portmore, in 1998, he was noticed by Bounty Killer, a
popular dancehall singer of ‘The Alliance’.
As a protégé of Killer, he began writing lyrics for Killer, Elephant
Man and other members of Scare Dem Crew. He also collaborated
with Killer on the famous ‘Gal Clown’ and ‘Girls Like Mine (Liquid
In 2002, he moved ahead to record solo singles and released a
string of best-selling solos, such as ‘Most High’, ‘Guns Like Mine’,
‘Badman’, ‘Bus Mi Gun Like Nuttn’, and ‘War Organizer’.
He collaborated with reggae singer Wayne Marshall to deliver some
successful hits, like ‘Why (Krazy Riddim)’, ‘New Millennium (Mad
Antz Riddim)’, and ‘Why Again (Good To Go Riddim)’.
By 2003, he was delivering hits after hits, grabbing the second
best place for the most singles sold in the reggae charts, losing to
fellow Alliance member Elephant Man.
He released his debut album ‘Up 2 Di Time’ in 2003, and later
made worldwide headlines with a planned on-stage clash with
Ninjaman during the annual dancehall festival, Sting.
He recorded two more albums ‘More Up 2 Di Time’ (2004) and
‘J.M.T.’ (2005), before his dispute with Killer. The dispute arose
after he attended Killer’s fierce rival Beenie Man’s wedding with
the former’s ex-girlfriend.
After falling out with Killer, he joined Beanie Man in 2006 and
immediately recorded a series of disc tracks targeting Killer’s
new protégé, Mavado.
He formed the Portmore Empire in 2006, which included young
artists from his hometown Portmore, who recorded under his own
label, Adidjaheim Records/Notnice Productions.
Over the next few years, the young dancehall fans were divided
into two groups – Gaza (those supporting Kartel) and Gully (those
siding Mavado). His 2009 single ‘Live We Living’ was a call for
peace to end enmity between the two.
As an entrepreneur, he launched a liquor line, Street Vybz Rum,
and a condom line, Daggering Condoms, in 2008.
In 2009, both the artists were called by Jamaican Prime Minister
Bruce Golding for a peace meeting to end the feud and planned a
peace concert in Barbados, featuring both the artists, but it was
canceled by the country’s Cultural Minister.
His 2010 single ‘Clarks’ turned out to be a huge hit in the
international market, urging him to record two more follow-up
singles – ‘Clarks 2 (Clarks Again)’ and ‘Clarks 3 (Wear Weh Yuh
Have)’, about the shoe brand, both becoming hits.
He recorded his next album ‘Pon Di Gaza 2.0’ in 2010, which had
successful singles ‘Ramping Shop’ and ‘Life Sweet’. ‘Kingston
Story’ followed the next year with Brooklyn producer Dre Skull,
whose singles became chartbusters.
A dispute between the partners stopped the production of Street
Vybz rum in 2011, but was resumed in 2012 after the two resolved
As a first for a Jamaican dancehall artist, he launched his own
reality television show ‘Teacha’s Pet’, which aired on CVM Jamaica
broadcast channel but was discontinued after his arrest in 2011.
He was arrested for carrying marijuana in September 2011 and
was later imprisoned for the murder of Jamaican businessman
and music promoter, Barrington Burton.
He was granted bail in March 2013, but remained in jail on
charges of the murder of Clive ‘Lizzard’ Williams in August 2011.
He co-authored a book ‘The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto:
Incarcerated but not Silenced’ with business associate Michael
Dawson and released it in 2012, while still in jail.
After a 65-day trial, considered to be the longest in the history of
Jamaica, he was found guilty and imprisoned for life in April 2014,
with his eligibility for parole coming after 35 years.
Awards & AchievementsHe won the ‘Deejay of the Year’ title at the 30th anniversary party
of Stone Love Sound System, in 2002.
In 2008, he received an award at the Caribbean Urban Music
He won three EME awards in 2009 – Male DJ of the Year,
Lyricist/Songwriter of the Year, and Song of the Year (Romping
Shop ft. Spice).
Personal Life & Legacy
He married New York bank supervisor, Stacy-Ann Alicia Elliott, in
2006 in a private ceremony in Cross Roads, Kingston. The
wedding didn’t last long and the couple ended their two-year
marriage with a divorce in 2008, on allegations of Stacy giving
birth to a son that was fathered by another man.
Currently, he is married to Tanesha ‘Shorty’ Johnson, with whom
he has three sons.